Jun
01
2012

Network TV's Attention Deficit After Gadhafi

Libyan violence ongoing, but media have moved on

Moammar Gadhafi--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/BRQ Network/AP Photo/Ben Curtis

Broadcast TV networks ABC, NBC and CBS combined to mention Libya a whopping 1,681 times between February 2011—when uprisings against the government began—and October, when Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed by a combination of NATO and Libyan rebel forces. Before that, coverage of Libya was barely a blip. And by 2012, coverage was back to almost nothing. There were four mentions of Libya in January 2011—one of which was ABC anchor Diane Sawyer (ABC World News, 1/17/11) prophetically speculating about the “dominoes” falling and “toppling” Mubarak in Egypt, Gadhafi in Libya and Assad in Syria. The next month, coverage […]

Jun
01
2012

Extra! 2012 Letters Vol. 25, No. 6

Craven on Daisey First, I usually enjoy reading every word of every issue. But, second, the editor’s note on Mike Daisey (Extra!, 5/12) is craven to a fault. 1. Judging Daisey by journalistic standards is like criticizing a left fielder for his tackling ability. The fundamental problem stems from whoever’s decision put him on the wrong field. 2. Daisey is a theatrical person and never represented himself as anything but. Nobody goes to the theater to watch the New York Times, although with the right background music and soft lighting it might be pleasant enough. 3. Theater tells a different […]

Jun
01
2012

God Told Them to Lie

Richard Cohen--Photo Credit: Washington Post

The popular media theme that Iran “can’t be trusted” is often presented as being based on “intelligence” about the country. But sometimes pundits cut right to the chase, as Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (9/29/09) did when he wrote in 2009, “These Persians lie like a rug.” The New York Times (4/14/12) fancied that idea up just a bit in an April 14 piece by James Risen about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. “Seeking Nuclear Insight in Fog of the Ayatollah’s Utterances” was the headline, though for many, Khamenei has been very clear: He says Iran is not pursuing […]

Jun
01
2012

MSNBC MIA on Iran

More Obama boosterism than foreign policy examination

Photo Credit: MSNBC/Mediaite

Getting independent, skeptical coverage of official claims about Iran—from its supposed nuclear weapons program (Extra!, 9-10/05, 1/12) to its alleged plans to launch terrorist attacks across the world (Extra!, 3/12)—is essential. One place you might expect to see more critical coverage is on supposedly left-leaning MSNBC. But when it comes to Iran, in what little coverage it offers the channel largely mirrors the Democratic Party line. For the most part, it was hard to find Iran on MSNBC. From January to April, two of MSNBC’s stars, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz, brought it up only 16 and 14 times, respectively. […]

Jun
01
2012

Being Transgender in American Media

Most journalists get pronouns right, but issues wrong

Jenna Talackova--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Give the corporate media cookies for finally getting pronouns right when reporting on transgender people. That only took dozens of years. Now if we could curb the media fixation on genitalia, we might be really getting somewhere. Because when it comes to covering transgender issues, media are still asking all the wrong questions, and framing the stories in the most offensive ways. Let’s examine the media swarm around Miss Universe Canada contestant Jenna Talackova. In April, Talackova was ousted from the pageant because of her transgender identity, and then later reinstated. Sure, reporters and newscasters were practically bursting to show […]

Jun
01
2012

SoundBites

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth Under the headline “Budget Plan’s Defeat Shows Hurdles to Compromise,” New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman (4/3/12) bemoaned the failure of a fiscal measure modeled on the media-beloved Bowles-Simpson plan (Extra!, 1/11), in which former Sen. Alan Simpson (R.-Wyo.) and Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles proposed Social Security cuts, tax cuts for the wealthy and an arbitrary cap on government spending. Weisman assured readers that Bowles-Simpson “is regarded by the Washington cognoscenti as the compromise both sides will have to eventually accept before the end of the year.” He backed that up with a […]

Jun
01
2012

U.S. Media Duck Legality of Attacking Iran

‘Supreme international crime’ not worth discussing

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Daniella Zalcman

SPECIAL SECTION: IRAN & WAR The drums of war beat ever louder as President Barack Obama talks of “all options” being “on the table” if Iran doesn’t halt its nuclear fuel processing program, and as Israel keeps threatening an air attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. But nowhere, perhaps, is this drumbeat louder than in the U.S. media, where it’s almost impossible to find any mention of the fact that such an attack, whether by U.S. or Israeli forces, would violate international law. An unprovoked attack against another nation is a war of aggression—“the supreme international crime,” as the Nuremberg Tribunal […]

Jun
01
2012

Lost in Translation

Iran never threatened to wipe Israel off the map

The menacing threat has been repeated endlessly in U.S. corporate media in recent years: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” “Iran,” “Israel” and “wipe” in one form or another occur together in more than 17,000 articles in the Nexis news database over the last seven years. It plays a critical role in the case for pre-emptive war against Iran. There’s just one problem: It never happened. Mideast expert and blogger Juan Cole (Informed Comment, 5/3/06) noted long ago that Iranian leaders never called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” but a […]